Saturday, May 20, 2006
Tolkien, Ring-Wraiths and current events
The Wraithing Process
I was recommending to my brother, a book of literary criticism about Tolkien , and the Lord of the Rings. The book is: J.R.R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-Earth, by Bradley J. Birzer. It is one of the best books about Tolkien and the LOTR that I have found. Here is a brief review of it over at Amazon, from Publshers Weekly:
"The past year has brought a bumper crop of spirituality-of-Tolkien books, no doubt fueled by the heightened interest generated by the new film series. Birzer's book differs somewhat from recent volumes on the Christian themes to be found in The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien's spirituality, says Birzer, was not generically Christian but specifically Roman Catholic: the lembas that sustains the company represents the Eucharist; Galadriel and Elbereth exemplify traits of the Virgin Mary; and the company looks to the restoration of a kingdom similar to the Holy Roman Empire. The best chapter of Birzer's study explores how Tolkien's "sanctifying myth" was informed by such Roman Catholic beliefs; Tolkien told a Jesuit friend, for example, that the trilogy was "a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision." Other chapters place Tolkien more generally within the usual canon of 20th-century Christian humanists, including his on-again, off-again friend, C. S. Lewis. Birzer is a fine writer who does a wonderful job of integrating primary sources such as letters, reminiscences and journals into his text; he also includes glimpses of unpublished materials, such as a scuttled LOTR chapter about Sam, as well as Tolkien's little-known attack on Lewis, "The Ulsterior Motive." This is, overall, a fine tribute to the man who, Birzer suggests, "resuscitated the notion that the fantastic may tell us more about reality than do scientific facts."
Also have been reading J.R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century, by Tom Shippey. In one of his chapters, The Lord of the Rings, Concepts of Evil, Shippey does a detailed look at Ring-Wraiths, also known as the Nazgul. Something he said here, helped me with my own political analysis:
"The Ringwraiths work for the most part not physically but psychologically, paralysing the will, disarming all resistance. This may have something to do with the process of becoming a wraith yourself. That can happen as a result of a force from outside. As Gandalf points out, explaining the Morgul-knife, if the splinter had not been cut out, 'you would have become a wraith under the dominion of the Dark Lord'. But more usually the suspicion is that people make themselves into wraiths.
They accept the gifts of Sauron, quite likely with the intention of using them for some purpose they identify as good. But then they start to cut corners, eliminate opponents, to believe in some 'cause', which justifies everything they do. In the end , the 'cause', or habits they have acquired while working for the cause, destroys any moral sense and even any remaining humanity. The spectacle of the person 'eaten up inside' by devotion to some abstraction has been so familar throughout the twentieth century as to make the idea of the wraith, and the wraithing process, horribly recognizable in a non-fantastic way."
I think we can safely say that Rumsfeld and Cheney have accepted the gifts of Sauron. The wraithing process is, and has been taking place before our eyes. In Rumsfelds case he cuts corners; General Shinseki recommends 200,000 troops. Rumsfeld gets rid of him, cuts the invading force down to more like 147,000, and has been obsessed from the beginning with a lean, light, and swift,military.
Recently, Cheney was obsessed with trying to stop the Senate from banning the use of Torture by the U.S. Meanwhile, after 9/11, they were farming out suspects to be tortured in other countries like Jordan and Egypt, even Syria early on.
Thus,in the ‘good’ cause of bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East, both Cheney and Rumsfeld choose to get someone else to do the torture for them, or make prisoners get naked at Abu Ghraib, and simulate animal acts, and these habits end up destroying any moral sense and even any remaining humanity for the authors, the approvers of such acts themselves.
Bush says he is guided by God, but he stands by everything Rumsfeld does. He protects him from critics. He is, " the decider", ; he gives him continual support.
Cheney and Rumsfeld have done his bidding, the effects are more pronounced in them. But this karma will catch up with ' W'. In effect, it would appear it already has. Mr. 29%.
Well, unless they renounce the gifts of Sauron, they have no where to go except get more Wraith-like. Unfortunate. Horrible to see.
I suppose we all, at this point in time, could use a phial of Galadriel, to help light our way through these times.